I farm 260 and work full time. I think I could do 1,000 and work full time. Remember you can hire some things custom. It will take some time to build up to full time status but dont let the nay sayers get in the way of you aspirations. I know a lot of full time farmers that started out working in factories ect. Get an education, get a day job, and get started. I waited a little too long in my opinion
How many acres you farm is not so important as what you farm. Even more important is how much you get paid for what you grow and how much you spent to grow it.
If you want, I'll dig up the link but basically the USDA says-statistically speaking-you don't actually start making money until you have $50,000 in gross sales. You don't start making a living until you have $250,000 in gross sales. To make that much, you have 1.9 million dollars in equity-1.2 in land and the rest in buildings and equipment. This average farm is 471 acres. This is figuring that you are growing a commodity.
I farm and I don't farm commodities. I'm not quite there yet but my partner Paula and I figure we need to farm:
This is figuring it is getting mostly direct marketed through CSA, Farmer's Markets, restaurants, and a few natural food stores. Everything is also organic. We figure we could get by with one 40-50 hp tractor, a few implements, good handling facilities for the animals, a stock trailer for transporting them, lots and lots of electric fence, and a few greenhouses, packing sheds and a walk-in. Land base wise, everything is long term leases. Being in California, most is unirrigated range land and about 50-60 acres of irrigated ground-some for the veg but most for summer pasture and feed for finishing.
We also figure that we will be hiring a full-time person by year three, and another by year four or five.
Plan for the future. I have no doubt in my mind that our dependency on Oil must be reduced, I personally feel that people going into business need to plan for this. Therefore I would recommend researching ways you can build your farm for sustainability into the future. A great way to determine what is right for you is to participate in a work trade with multiple local farmers that utilize different methods. This may then assist you in determining what you can manage & at what expense (financially & to the environment).
Here is a link to a great presentation, it pertained specifically to IA but the principal can be applied nationwide. Have patience it takes a minute to load.
Not necessarily. It depends on where you are farming, the resources available, and what you are farming.
I farm organically and currently grow a few acres of fruit and veg but then graze sheep on 1000 acres with not much more then an ATV, herding dogs, guard dogs, electric fence, water troughs, and salt blocks.
Right now, it's only my partner Paula and I but as we grow and increase our acreage we will need to hire a person or two.
I think the idea of diversification is the answer,not the # of acres you farm. If crops are good ,livestock isn't or vice versa .I farm 700 acres,have a small beef herd and milk 35-40 cows with my wife and 2 small daughters, I think I should cut-back because sometimes we are pushed for time.Returns are good on what we do but remember one thing if you can't manage what you have (acres,cattle,etc. etc.) then you're setting yourself up for failure.
My dad farms 800 acres of row crop and 40 head of cows, and im just looking to start farming with him. and now adays its smart to go to college to learn how all of the technology changes and all the electronic crap in all the machinery.
Start by asking yourself a question-do you want to work for the bank, for the government, for the machinery credit dept., or for yourtself? Don't go overboard with the off farm job-I've seen too often where the person that does that ends up robbing Peter to pay Paul, meaning the off farm job requires you to hire things done that you could do yourself, or makes it impossible to get the farm work done in a timely manner, resulting in lower yields, or poorly performing livestock. If you need something else to make ends meet, make sure it's flexible hours, and not full time. Don't run yourself ragged, where you end up farming at night, tired, and prone to accidents. Don't farm with junk, but you don't need the newest or biggest equipment, either. I just suggest getting a tractor with a quiet cab and air-conditioning, which goes all the way back to 1973 models with some colors of tractor. Best of luck-I know it can be done!!
good morning Caleb. after reading the many posts.... i can give more suggestions. i was a farming purist at one time.meaning i only wanted to farm and thats -what i did-. however years later i realized i am a businessman... doing anything i can to make money as a businessman became the new goal. i now farm a good number of row crop acres... which enables me with free time to participate in off farm ventures. I flip houses and i also have a large portfolio of commercial real estate. you may wonder what real estate has to do with farming..... well i am self employed... so when its time to plant beans... i lock the door on the house and plant.... i don't have to put in a notice for a vacation.. etc.